More babies are being born with Down’s syndrome in the UK as parents feel society is more welcoming for their children a BBC Radio 4 Documentary will reveal tonight.
Since screening for Down’s syndrome became common place in 1989, new cases of Down’s fell every year from 717 that year to 594 in 2000. New figures show that the number of babies being born with Down’s has risen fifteen percent to 749, its highest ever level. BBC Radio 4 documentary Born With Down’s Syndrome will claim tonight the reason for this rise is that parents feel their children are increasingly likely to be welcomed into society.
A survey of Down’s Syndrom Association members revealed that a third decided to continue with pregnancy after diagnosis because they felt attitudes towards Down’s syndrome had improved and life chances were better for Down’s babies. A quarter also said they made the decision because they knew someone with Down’s or another disability.
Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down’s Syndrome Association said: “When I and others had our babies it was a different world. Now their is much greater inclusion and acceptance, with mainstream education having a huge role. We think this plays a part in the decisions parents make.”
BBC One drama Eastenders recently ran a story involving a Down’s syndrome baby, portraying the struggles faced by the parents. Baby Janet has now left the show and Eastenders bosses have been widely criticised for the decision not to continue with the storyline. Emma Barton who plays Honey, Janet’s mother in the show, said of the decision, “I think it’s a bit of a cop out really. To bring Down’s syndrome to the forefront of the show was a huge step and to avoid continuing with the storyline just seems like they can’t be bothered. Many parents of Down’s babies must be very dissapointed. I know Baby Janet’s real parents are.”